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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer: Hannah Colley, On the Blessing of the Church in Hard Times

Life’s a flurry right now of Polishing the Pulpit prep. ( If you’re reading and you are a regular, I can’t wait to hug your neck. If you are a digger, I can’t wait to wrap up the amazing (amazing, because it’s from Scripture) Comfort study and I’m way excited about kicking off our 2023-24 study from one of those large rooms at PTP on Saturday at 12:30. I mean I cannot wait! I’m working hard on the little things that make the study fun. If you have never been to PTP, remember there are a couple of “free” days when you can come try it on for size. But I can already tell you, it fits. You will never want to miss it again. It’s worth the wait, worth the money, worth the pretty big hassle of getting every child and aged person on board for as much of it as possible!

There are hugs to go around at PTP!

So today, in honor of PTP anticipation, here’s an excerpt from an upcoming lesson by Hannah Colley. It’a lesson about keeping our commitments to Jesus Christ. This part is so deeply in my heart as we finish up 2023 and, as we prayerfully move toward even more blessed times as a family, as a congregation, as a church–as we move toward heaven!

Hannah says this:

When you feel alone, remember Joseph. Remember to hold fast to what you know is true—That God is on his throne and He has a plan for your life, even if you can’t see it.

But also, find comfort in the fact that we as Christians have an incredible advantage that Joseph didn’t have, and that is His church. I mean this when I say that I truly do not know how I would have made it through the past couple of years without the encouragement and support of the Lord’s church. Many of you helped carry me through the darkest days of my life. To outsiders looking in, it is shocking to see how God’s people come together to help people that aren’t even blood relatives. But that’s because the blood of Christ has made us family. We were never meant to survive the trials of this life alone. God gave us this community, this family of disciples, to “bear one another’s burdens”—that’s how we fulfill the law of Christ.

I’m so thankful for those who “fulfill”…incredibly thankful. I cannot wait to see many of you at this grand reunion we call PTP. But, oh!… That other reunion! If you have to miss PTP it’s sad. But, if you have to miss that other reunion, it’s the ultimate eternal tragedy! Let’s help each other get there!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Is He in the Fire?

This month of studying the comforting power of prayer has once again called me to self-examination. Do I fully rely on the Lord to keep His promises when persecution or trials come my way or do I make myself physically ill in worry over things I cannot control? Do I pray daily and directionally as a matter of routine (to click on “completed”) or am I passionately interested in talking to Him? Maybe most importantly, am I putting my own efforts behind the things for which I am asking or am I putting my own ideas and effort first and then praying, just in case my ingenuity doesn’t work? In other words, am I just praying to “cover all the bases”?

I have dear sisters who are suffering through persecution from those in the body (similarly to Nehemiah when his own countrymen in Jerusalem tried to stop the wall-building). I have sisters who are grieving the loss, both physically and spiritually, of adult children. I talked with a sister yesterday who is on her way to file for divorce after the painful discovery that her husband is living in adultery. I spoke with a young friend earlier in the week who is standing, almost alone, for righteousness on a college campus where there are lots of others who should know truth and should be coming to her aid.  I spoke with a mom who is fighting for the mental and spiritual health of her young and innocent daughter against the missiles of the devil in our world. These things are just at the top of a long list of unimaginably painful paths.

Let me say this with great affirmation. I do not always get it right. But one thing I have learned in the past couple of years is this: My current estimation of how earnestly God is working to aid my cause or the cause of truth/righteousness is not accurate. There is just no way the human mind can, in a time of trial, comprehend the providence that is occurring in events that are hurting His people. There will be days in your life when you will cry out in anguish to Him and then, as you go through another heart-wrenching saga or a day of unexpected and sad plot twists, you are tempted to think He did not hear you at all and that, indeed, He is not listening.

And then there will be another day: A day when you see, and you do so rather clearly, that God had to bring you through excruciation (each hard thing had to transpire) to bring you to a point of victory, vindication or rejoicing. He had to bring you through decisions that you could not control–decisions that, at the time, seemed defeating and cruel; that, in fact, those agonizing decisions, events and persecutions that you loathed, were the very ones that ended up working together to be the deliverance from the situation, the enemy, the fiery trial that was the curse in your life.  As many have said, “God does not always save you from the fire. Sometimes He saves you through it.” It is the very hard thing–the thing that is a test of your very endurance– that is required to bring about the end result that is productive and, yes, comforting.

It’s important to remember that:

  1. The spot of comfort may not even occur till heaven. (That’s hard to think about on time’s side. But one day, all people will “get” the rapidity with which all struggles find their final cold, hard, stop and transfer, in a defining moment, to eternal bliss or eternal damnation. This life is just a breath.)
  2. It’s impossible to recognize the good in the pain when you are in the hottest part of the flame. Faith does not consist of being able to understand or figure out. It’s trusting till you do, even if that time is not on this side of the great Judgment Day!
  3. The day when you DO finally see that every ridiculously hard thing was required by His providence for the ultimate victory and rest for His own, brings a measure of comfort you would never have experienced without the hard things.

I am not a wise woman. But I am blown away every day by the amazing wisdom in the Word. I can do anything for this short lifetime. May He keep giving me the good things, easy and hard, soothing and painful, heart-rending and heart-mending, until He takes me home. When you’re through the fire–whenever that is– the warmth of the very flame that tested you feels so very good!

Psalm 37! Just take the time to go and read it. He says it so much better than I could even begin to say it!



Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“Go Paint Your Nails”…?!

There will be mornings in your life when you wake up and it takes you just a few seconds to remember the sorrow that yesterday ( or a bunch of yesterdays) brought into your world; but then you do remember and you really rue the awakening. If only this were last night’s nightmare instead of today’s reality. 

There will be evenings when you are hurting all over your body because of the primary pain in your heart…the one that cannot be alleviated or even lessened by any prescription or balm.

You will try to eat your way into feeling better, sleep your way into comfort, or just be totally alone and think or read your way into peace. But peace eludes and sadness envelopes. Tears flow until there are no more tears to fall. The unbeliever wishes for some hope in such an hour, and the Christian wishes for hope fulfilled; sometimes even wishing for the hastening of the trumpet or even the rest of the grave. 

No counselor is wise enough, no comforter tender enough, no calendar busy enough and no confidante faithful enough to protect you from the battering ram of grief (or sin or loss or pain) that can destroy, plunder and desert. Nothing makes you forget the hurt for very long. A few seconds…minutes, on the outside…make up the only occasional short respite. 

There will be a day like this in your life. What will you do? There’s someone you know who is living that day right now. How is she making it? Survival mode is just that…breathing the next breath without plan for the following one. Survival mode leaves behind attention to detail and  pursuit of any luxury or frivolity and focuses on just “making it” through. There’s a lot of numbness that characterizes survival mode. Yet you feel enough to hurt. 

A friend of mine was in the middle of one of the most grievous trials that I’d ever seen anyone traverse. I mean this was a bleak path in a black darkness. She had said to me, “I don’t know how I can keep going like this.”

In the middle of one of the deepest abysses of the entire journey, her counselor, at that juncture, said “ You just need to go home and paint your nails and take care of you!” 

May I suggest that attention to the outward appearance of the fleshly self is never the answer in the dark times of life. The Psalmist said this in the words of David that I prayed today: 

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;

to you, O Lord, I will make music.

I will ponder the way that is blameless.

Oh when will you come to me?

I will walk with integrity of heart

within my house;

I will not set before my eyes

anything that is worthless.

I hate the work of those who fall away;

it shall not cling to me.

A perverse heart shall be far from me;

I will know nothing of evil (from Psalm 101).


In the darkest time, I need steadfast love.

I need justice.

I need to be found blameless. 

I need integrity of heart.

I need to shun the worthless and to hate the work of those who have fallen away from God. 

I need to get far away from a perverse heart and 

I need to remove myself, as far as I can, from evil. 


To make the list even more succinct, it’s 







and righteousness. All are attributes seen clearly in the person of my Lord on the cross, and all fill deep spiritual needs in me.  These things are what I need.

It’s about some nails, alright, but not the kind you paint. It’s the nails that held my Lord to the cross and it’s my crucifixion with Him. I’m crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:21). When it feels like you just can’t go on living remember that you live by the faith in the son of God, who has loved you and given himself for you! Ironically, if you carry the burden of the cross, you can carry any other load.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The “I love you”s matter…a lot, really.


We didn’t get to be together for Thanksgiving. The Colley crew had the flu. We didn’t get to have our Christmas Eve breakfast at Celine’s house because Christmas landing on Sunday messes up all those preachers’ schedules.  I’m pretty determined to get this mammoth mess cleaned up, so we can make another one here as we ring in the new year with my father’s chaotic family of–(wow!)–29, now! There will be bazillions of presents under the tree that’s been a stand-very-tall-great-water-drinker for a whole month now, thanks to Ezra (this year’s tree-picker.)  There will be lots of football foods (although it will be a lackluster year in that “arena” for sure…) and there will be the fireworks at night–the ones on which my dad always spent way too much money!) I’m hoping the great blessing of a brand new baby over in Mississippi in the Nicholas family will pick another day to arrive, so that more of that part of the crew can come here, but we will be blessed and ecstatic even if he picks that very day! And, yes. This party will also be on the wrong day, after all those preachers (and the rest of us) get finished with the most important first things of every week.

SO, here’s hoping this tradition can avoid cancellation this year! In honor of its founder, here’s a reprint of what was happening in a hospital room just five years ago during the holidays. It seems like yesterday and it seems like an eternity ago. I’m glad this pain for Dad has been over for five years now and that there’s much faith that he is whole and happy and now with the most influential person in my life.  She’s been there for 30 years now and how I have missed her! There’s been some ( a lot) of a different kind of pain since that December five years ago that I’m happy he did not have to know. But God is sovereign and God is good and God knows all things. There’s great comfort in the fact that He knows our hearts, intents, and he has fashioned our eternities. He knows the end of every trial we face before we even feel the pain. He has got my life span’s little speck of eternity in the palm of his hand and He is cognizant of and cares about every need that looms large (to me) in my little speck. I constantly remind myself that this crisis or that huge wound is just a wrinkle in the little speck.

I praise Him for family that means so very much in times of rejoicing and in hours of trial. I praise Him for Jesus who advocates for me before His throne at all times.


Five years ago:


Tonight in this hospital room, this daughter experienced a few very sweet moments. I will treasure them in memory whether my dad and I have lots of future sweet moments in time or not. As today has gone by, my Father who has said precious little, and only in in breathy, labored tones for several days, has become more and more alert. Mind you, what you might think is pretty much asleep all day was still more alert to those who have been keeping this vigil. 

Every time I see his eyes open, I try to go to his side and grab his hand. Tonight he grabbed right back. He even gave me his signature quick nod of recognition. 

Then I always think of everything I can talk about in his one ear that now has a hearing aid. (The other hearing aid was crushed on the floor of the ambulance—and that was another story as Sami chased the driver down and out of the building to try and find the missing hearing aid.) I talked about football. I talked about getting better. I talked about what I was eating and about breathing treatments. And then I told him I loved him. He slowly forced out the “I” and then put his very sore tongue to the roof of his very blistered mouth to make that “L” sound. 

I said “Are you trying to say “I love you?” 

“Yeah” he said. 

That’s all I needed to hear to be okay through this long night. Such a great little present for a this weary pilgrim. But that was not all. I asked him if he wanted me to read the Bible. This time I got a clear “Uh-huh.” 

Before the hospitalization, we’d been reading in Acts and we were ready for chapter seven, so I read the story of Joseph to Him as told by the first martyr, Stephen. I think I was reading so that all the staff out at the nurses station could probably hear. When I got to the resolution part about Jacob going down to Egypt, Dad just drifted back off to sleep.  

I’ll take it. A few minutes of communication is a great source of comfort in this very well-lit, bustling, but yet, very lonely room. It is the best one of today. There are a few lessons in every gift. Here are tonight’s five lessons. 

  1. “Yeah” is easier to say than “I love you.”  That’s true in just about every relationship. Short answer quizzes in families and friendships are just easier.  Sometimes in all kinds of life problems, we have to help each other say those three words. It’s always better, if someone’s having trouble saying them, to assume he means them till you know differently.

  2. You never know the value of healthy communication until you have to do without it. So don’t let days go by—days when you could be talking and sharing with the ones you love. Don’t let those days escape while you pout or exchange the silent treatment or engage in hurtful communication. Especially, don’t do this in your marriage. You will experience deep regret.

  3. Only the people you’ve really loved with agape can appreciate fully the three words when you say them. See, Daddy did not love me just enough to share some material blessing with me (although he certainly worked hard to do that). He did not just love me enough to put up with my inadequacies (although he surely was in the next room during the messy, late- night-studying, bathroom-hogging teen years). He did not just love me enough to build things in the wood shop for Christmas (although there was the doll bed and the cabinet for my tea set during the sixties and the wooden purse, stilts and shuffle board game of the seventies and the marble mazes and rocking horses and graduation banks for grandchildren of the eighties). He, along with my mother, who was also sharing and making and building, loved me enough to give their lives for me, if needed. They loved me enough to pray about inadequacies and to correct them. They loved me enough to build more than toys and purses. They loved me enough to build character. That’s the most enduring home-made gift.

  4. There’s something very ironic about the goal. Heaven is THE goal. Ironically, God has placed in us a very strong desire to keep our loved ones here with us rather than to be completely willing to have them go and be with the Lord. I cannot fully explain that fierce desire to preserve and protect feeble life. But I know it is right to have it. It is right to protect and preserve life, because that defense is innately built into the moral compass of people of conscience. One has to be trained to devalue life. It is not the natural affection of Romans 1: 31 and 2 Timothy 3:3. So I grab that hand and it’s the best when he grabs it right back.

  5. There’s great comfort—always, in all ways— in the Word. There’s an amazing example, for instance, of the application of Romans 8:28 in that ancient account of Joseph in Egypt. We get to look at how a faithful person perseveres when there are family members who are spiteful or friends who falsely accuse or forget about the good things we do for them. We get to see, up-close and personally, how the  faithful react to both poverty and riches. Sometimes, when we are weary, there’s so much comfort that we can go right off to a deep and peaceful sleep while reading the Word. I think I can maybe even do that tonight…right here in this chair. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Zig-Zag

How about we start a new week?  And for mine, I’d like to stay at home for 24 hours straight at least once in the coming week. I went from Huntsville to Dallas, Texas to Huntsville to Chattanooga, Tennessee to  Corinth, Mississippi, to Memphis, Tennessee to Huntsville to Chattanooga to Huntsville to Chattanooga to Huntsville between the last two week-ends. If anyone looked at a map with this trajectory, she’d say I zig-zagged my week away! She would be right. 

Sometimes it seems that way spiritually and mentally, too. When schedule obligations collide with time limitations—when unexpected and close-to-catastrophic events are suddenly added to an already minute-to-minute schedule, we adapt a survival mode that’s nothing like normalcy. (We go places without combing our hair. Pajamas are okay for Dollar General. Brushing our teeth takes about 20 seconds. We thank God for fast food that we try to avoid , otherwise. When cleaning for company, we say “Oh well, it’s just a cabin; not the Ritz.”  If holes and dirt and stains are hidden on the little people we are dressing—or if they can be—then we pretend they are not really there.) We’re just trying to get through things—funerals, procedures, croup, ear infections, stomach flu, ladies days,—in one piece and with lots of prayer, albeit prayer often spoken while moving quickly. 

About that zigging and zagging. I think a lot about how to combine or even avoid trips to the same proximity. But, despite best efforts, my life map looks like a child’s scribble back and forth in the same spot on a piece of messy paper. Thinking about this last night, I realized that it’s often the zig-zag here on earth that makes the straightest line toward heaven. It’s the going back and forth from crisis to crisis on this planet that best prepares, tests and grows me toward a perfect place of stability and rest. Sometimes the zig-zag is the direct route to peace. 

These earthly routes are tests. (Sometimes I know my “grade” is not a passing one. So thankful for grace.) Going over and over the same ground in my little world is preparation for rest in His big world. He never meant for me to be “at home” in this life. (Good thing!) He’s placed me in the perfect realm for testing. He gives me the scenarios that give me choices. His Holy Spirit said as much in James 1:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Can I keep doing the ‘next right thing’ even when it becomes extremely challenging, physically and emotionally? Can I say with confidence that I’m going to be okay through this survival mode, no matter how long it lasts, because He is my strength and refuge…the ever present help, no matter where I am on the zig-zag (Psalm 46)? Can I even treat other people with kindness and generosity, when I’m feeling like someone or some ones are not being kind to me? All the angst of the zig-zag is to be expected. The way of life is constricted. The gate is narrow and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:14). I’ve got an idea that most of those who do, will have done some zig-zagging in survival mode. 

Life is ultimately a test. The quicker we learn that reality, the easier the trials will be. My focus must be passing the tests of my faith; the short-term challenges that will, in one eternal day seem like nothing. The trials are but for a moment, and we should praise Him that we are being “processed” for heaven through them!

One last thing. Have you ever thought about the fact that Job never knew about that day that God encountered the devil and said “Have you thought about my servant Job?” (Job 1)? Job did a lot of zig-zagging from that point on in his life. He went over and over and over exactly why all of this was happening. He walked into doubt and back again, several times. He walked into the valley of the shadow of death and back again, with multiple loved ones. He walked into extremely poor health and back again. He walked into frustration with those who were his accusers, and back again.

Through all of His changes, Job knew that God had none. When I can come to understand this, the zig-zags of this life will not be wasted on me. They will be purposeful, even powerful, in the deliverance of His grace. 

Job 23:13-14 – “But He is unchangeable, and who can turn Him back?  What He desires, that He does.  For He will complete what He appoints for me, and many such things are in His mind.”


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Podcast is Tonight. God is Good!

For the Diggers: 

Some of you have said at times “I do not know how I would make it without this group. It gives me strength to carry on.” I get it now and God is good like that, 

Some of you have said at times “This time in my life is very hard and the passage that we are studying is speaking right to me.” I get it now and God is good like that. 

Some have said “I did not know how much I needed this part of the study until I studied it.” I get it now and God is good like that. 

Some have said “Getting together on this page and drawing strength is something I look forward to every week.” I get it now and God is good like that. 

Some have said “Knowing we are all on the same page helping each other get to heaven is so good to keep me on track.” I get it now and God is good like that. 

When you’re having a bad go of it in one way or the other, God is effectively working though His Word. When you are struggling mightily, God is effectively working through HIs people. But when you have His people in the same pages of His Word and you are communicating about that union of people and the Holy Spirit, God is doubly blessing your days—your victories, your trials and your routines. God is good like that and you see it more through the struggles. 

I hope you can join us for a look at the “greatest of these” from John 15. He will bless our time together and I know we will be better after discussing this together. It’s tonight at 7 CST here:…

Co-host is Kendra Byrd. She’s new to the podcast, but you’re going to love her. She’s a sister who is willing to go the distance for her kids in the kingdom. God has brought them to the West Huntsville family and we praise Him for that! He is good like that!